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Alexander Rutskoy

Alexander Vladimirovich Rutskoy (Russian: Александр Владимирович Руцкой) (born September 16, 1947) is a Russian politician and a former Soviet military officer. Rutskoy served as the first and only Vice President of Russia from July 10, 1991 to October 4, 1993, and as the governor of Kursk Oblast from 1996 to 2000. In the course of the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993, he was proclaimed acting president of Russia, in opposition to Boris Yeltsin.

Early life and career

Alexander Rutskoy was born to a Jewish family in Proskuriv, Ukraine. Rutskoy graduated from High Air Force School in Barnaul (1971) and Gagarin Air Force Academy in Moscow (1980). He had reached rank of Colonel when he was sent to the Soviet war in Afghanistan. He was in command of an air assault regiment and was shot down twice, in 1986 and the second time in 1988 by an F-16 flown by Sqn. Ldr. Athar Bukhari of the Pakistan Air Force. Rutskoy was then flying a Su-25 aircraft and entered by mistake Pakistan's airspace. He managed to eject but was captured by mujahideen, and later released. For his bravery in 1988 he was awarded Hero of the Soviet Union. As a soldier and a populist, he was chosen by Boris Yeltsin to be his vice presidential running mate in the 1991 Russian presidential election.

Rutskoy was vice president of Russia from July 10, 1991 to October 4, 1993. As vice president, Rutskoy gave a speech in Bendery in 1992 advocating self-determination for Transnistria, delivering a clear message of the moral support for the population.

Russian constitutional crisis of 1993

Following the initial period of peaceful collaboration with Yeltsin, from the end of 1992, Rutskoy began openly declaring his opposition to the President's economic and foreign policies and accusing some Russian government officials of corruption. His opposition to Yeltsin became especially clear during the crisis in March, 1993 when the Congress of People's Deputies tried, unsuccessfully, to remove Yeltsin from the presidency. In subsequent months, Rutskoy himself was accused of corruption by the officials of Yeltsin's government. On September 1, 1993, President Boris Yeltsin "suspended" Rutskoy's execution of his vice-presidential duties, due to alleged corruption charges. The Russian Constitutional Court subsequently declared Yeltsin's decree as unconstitutional.

On September 21, 1993, President Boris Yeltsin dissolved the Supreme Soviet, which was in direct contradiction with the articles of Soviet Constitution of 1978, e.g.:

Article 121-6. The powers of the President of RSFSR cannot be used to change national and state organization of RSFSR, to dissolve or to interfere with the functioning of any elected organs of state power. In this case, his powers cease immediately.

On the night from September 21 to September 22, Rutskoy arrived at the residence of the Russian parliament and, at 12:22 a.m., assumed the powers of acting president of Russia, in accordance with the above article. He took the presidential oath, and said: "I am taking the authority of President. The anti-constitutional decree of President Yeltsin is annulled." Rutskoy's interim presidency, although constitutional, was never acknowledged outside Russia. After the two-week standoff, and the violence erupting on the streets of Moscow, on October 4, the Parliament building was taken by Yeltsin's military forces. Rutskoy and his supporters were arrested and charged with organization of mass disturbances. On the same day, Yeltsin officially dismissed Rutskoy as vice president and fired him from the military forces. Rutskoy was imprisoned in the Moscow Lefortovo prison until February 26, 1994, when he and other participants of both August 1991 and October 1993 crises, were granted amnesty by the new State Duma.

Soon after his release, Rutskoy founded a populist, nationalist party Derzhava (Russian: Держава) (Russian word "Держава" is identical in meaning to a German word "Reich"), which, failed in the State Duma election of 1995, gathering only about 2.5% of the votes, thus not passing the 5% threshold. He decided not to run for the presidency in the summer of 1996, but did run for the position of the governor of his native Kursk Oblast in the fall of the same year. Being a joint candidate from the Communist and "patriotic forces," he was initially banned from the election, but allowed to run by the Russian Supreme Court only a few days before the election, which he won in a landslide, with about 76% of the vote.

His tenure as governor was marred by accusations of incompetence and nepotism from his political rivals. He was banned from running in 2000 Kursk's governor elections on a technicality for failing to register his car. The analysts attributed his exclusion from the election to the pressure from Kremlin.

Sound file of negotiations between Rutskoy and the Central Internal Affairs Directorate (GUVD).

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